Queensland Container Refund Scheme False Recycling Claims and Statistics

Figures provided by Ministers, Departments and Container Exchange have often been misleading at best and comparisions have been difficult to make due to inconsistent and differing methods being used for calculation of relevant statistics.

Depending on what suits their agenda at the time you have annual consumption figures for containers of “up to 3 Billion” and “over 2.4 Billion”.

Containers for Change and Container Exchange are fond of quoting the figure of 30 to 35% for past recycling rates when in the 2017-2018 financial Year immediately before the commencement of the Container Recycling Scheme it was 45%.

There needs to be an independent audit performed of the embarrassing Container Recycling Scheme with a view to replacing it with a supermarket Reverse Vending Machine system like Germany and other countries.

This article is a supporting article for the main article | Queensland Container Refund Scheme.

Recycling Percentages

Before the start of the Container Refund Scheme recycling rate was 45% but immediately afterwards it dropped to 38.5% before increasing to 41.6% 4 months later however the claims from Government and Container Exchange was that they were recycling 62%!

This is easily proven incorrect yet the media have not picked up on this and the only other questions around this have been from from an interstate environmental group who calculated it at 33% and were attacked by Container Exchange and protected by the Minister who claimed there was no need for an audit.

  • Recycling Rate 2017-2018 FY = 45%

Containers for Change started on the 1st of November 2018

  • Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 38.5% (calculated)
  • Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 62% (claimed)
  • Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 41.6% (calculated)

Reduction in Litter

One claim that has been thrown into the Container Exchange Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 8 is the 35% reduction in litter between November 1 2018 to presumably the end of January 2019 which is a 3 month period.

Container Exchange Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 8

The Minister said that there was a reduction in litter in the environment of about 35% in a media statement on the 7th of September 2019 | 800 million containers now returned through Containers for Change. No mention was made that this was beverage container litter and this is another deliberate attempt to overestimate the benefits of a flawed scheme.

Minister Enoch said across Queensland, the container refund scheme had helped reduce litter in the environment by about 35%.

Leeanne Enoch | 800 million containers now returned through Containers for Change

Details of this survey can only be found in the Department of Environment and Science Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 36 where there was an omission that this was as survey conducted in February 2019.

Department of Environment and Science Annual Report for 2018-2019 on page 36

Calculations

A number of figures have been supplied by the Queensland State Government for the total number of bottles and cans covered by the Container Refund Scheme.

Neary 3 Billion by the Minister responsible at the time Dr Steven Miles in the Implementing Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme Discussion paper from April 2017.

In a Media Statement by Steven Miles on the 22nd of July 2016 he quoted the figure of 2.4 Billion and this figure has been used by numerous media and other organisations as late as 2019. As this is the lower figure this will be used for calculations as it will only increase the percentage.

In the Queensland Productivity Commission report on Container Refund Scheme Price Monitoring Review the claim is 2.8 Billion containers per year. The final report is here.

Containers Exchange claimed a 63% redemption rate based on 38% via Container Refund Points and 25% via material recovery facilities (council etc).

To estimate costs (Table 4.1), the Commission used scheme prices and data on volumes provided by COEX. The data includes the volumes of eligible containers sold in Queensland per month, by material type, for the period 1 November 2018 to 30 April 2019.

The direct cost of the scheme per container ranges between 4.59 and 5.36 cents, depending on the type of material in containers. The predicted container redemption rate is 63 per cent, which implies an average refund of 6.3 cents per container.
To calculate the direct cost of the scheme, the Commission took the total of 1.4 billion containers sold into the market in the first six months of the scheme’s operation 4 and, for each month, categorised the volumes by material type and then multiplied those volumes by the scheme price for that type of material.

4 Redemption rates used included: (a) 38 per cent returned through container refund points; and (b) 25 per cent returned through material recovery facilities. Data supplied by COEX.

August 2019 | Container Refund Scheme Price Monitoring Review

It’s not possible to work it out from the initial figures in the first Annual Report as there are loans included in the amount and containers by customers were stored from before the scheme started and cashed in based on the large numbers the first weeks of operation.

Recycling Rate 2017-2018 FY = 45%
Containers Sold in 2017-2018 Financial Year = 2.4 BILLION
Recycling Rate for 2017-2018 FY = 45% *1
*1 Thanks a billion: Container scheme transforms Queensland recycling

Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 38.5%
Containers Sold in 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 1.6 BILLION *1
Calculated Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 38.5%*2
Claimed Recycling Numbers 11/2018 to 06/2019 = 617 MILLION*3
*1 Using the 2017-2018 figure across eight month period.
*2 .617/1.6 = 38.5%
*3 Container Exchange Annual Report 2018-2019
[Note: using the figures in the annual report for 2018-2019 show this figure to by 28% based on income from containers and payments to customers – as this was the first year of operation this figure may be slightly distorted so will not be used for this calculation]

Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 62% or 41.6%
Containers Sold November 2018 to October 2019 = 2.4 BILLION
Claimed Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 62% *1
Calculated Recycling Rate 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 41.6% *2
Claimed Recycling Numbers 11/2018 to 10/2019 = 1 BILLION
*1 Thanks a billion: Container scheme transforms Queensland recycling
*2 1/2.4 = 41.6%
[The TEC survey claims a 33% recycling rate, this is assumed to be based on the 3 Billion container figure so I have not included it above but it shows how far the Queensland Government supplied figures are from the truth.]

Low to Mid 30s Claims

In 2017-18, the figure improved to 45 per cent.

Now, after the first 12 months of the state government-backed cash for containers scheme, the rate is 62 per cent.

Containers for Change spokesman Adam Nicholson said COEX – the company that runs the scheme – calculated Queensland’s recycling rate after the billion cans were recycled since November 2018.

“We were the worst-littered state and we were down in the low to mid 30s for our recycling rate,” Mr Nicholson said.

Thanks a billion: Container scheme transforms Queensland recycling | 1st of November 2019

44% and 3 Billion Containers

The main page of the Container Exchange and Containers for Change Website states the 44% figure for the year before they started operation along with the 3 Billion containers per year.

In recent years, Queensland has had one of the lowest recycling rates in Australia at around 44%. Each year, around 3 billion drink containers are generated in Queensland alone and are the second most littered item.

11th of April 2020 | Container Exchange Main Page
11th of April 2020 | Container Exchange Main Page
11th of April 2020 | Containers for Change Main Page

$25 Million to Charity Organisations

Steven Miles the Minister responsible at the time included a claim in a media statement on the 22nd of July 2016 that $25 million could be made by community organisations each year. In the 8 months from November 2018 to June 2019 a total of $863,897 was paid to Charities and Community Groups [page 8 – Financial Report].

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